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This blog is about 3 things. First, eating out and telling you about it. Writing food reviews is fun and enjoyable. Second, making my own meals and sharing recipes. I'm all about simple, easy, and tasty. Third, tackling some challenges in my cookbooks. This way I learn techniques and flavors that I can add to my own cooking. And it all adds up to lots of talk about lots of food. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.
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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Quick Bites from Cleveland

From a food perspective, I will say that this trip to Cleveland was unlike any other that I’d taken. As an interesting side note, it was unlike any other from a work/positive energy/excitement perspective as well. All-in-all, my best trip to Cleveland. Anyway, I posted about Lola and Lolita over the past week, but those obviously were not the only places that I ate at. So, I offer a quick bites recap of my non-hotel, non-cafeteria dining around Cleveland.

Steak ‘N Shake

You might be asking why I went to a Steak ‘N Shake, especially given my affinity for non-chain restaurants and trying the local cuisine. Two reasons. First, there really isn’t a lot open in Cleveland after 11 p.m. Second, Marc Summers said on The Best Thing I Ever Ate that his favorite hamburger of all time was from Steak ‘N Shake. Now, I’m sure Marc Summers knows good food, but I can now definitively say we don’t share the same hamburger tastes. I ordered the Double Steakburger with the Works and fries. This means it had ketchup, mustard, lettuce, tomato, mustard, onion, and mustard for good measure. I like yellow mustard as much as the next guy, but this was ridiculous. Once I finally made my way through a lot of the mustard and tasted the burger, I was turned off completely. It just tasted of greasy and almost metallic, painfully obvious that it had been cooked on a flat top that wasn’t absorbing flavors of burgers past. And the fries were just not good. No salt, soggy, luke warm. I know my expectations shouldn’t be super high for after midnight dining, but this was my first and last visit to Steak ‘N Shake. Next time I’m just finding an all night, local diner.

Final Verdict – 1.5 Stars (Sorry Marc Summers)

Jacobs (er…Progressive) Field

There is just something about a baseball game that makes the simplest foods taste exponentially better. Unfortunately, I didn’t really take advantage of it. At the game I stopped and grabbed a sausage that was ok, some onion rings that were palatable, and some nachos that had been sitting under a heat lamp for too long. But, I also had a few Great Lakes brews on board, so I didn’t really pay attention.

Final Verdict – Incomplete

Sushi Rock on UrbanspoonThe best way to describe Sushi Rock is Cleveland does sushi. After doing the appropriate amount of whining about a Seattlite going to sushi in the middle of the country, I finally decided that building rapport with my boss was better for my career and sucked it up and went to Sushi Rock. Walking in, it was exactly what I expected; Cleveland does sushi. There was loud, but trendy music, a bunch of people, and a slightly snobby hostess. When we sat down and I looked at the menu, two things jumped out. First, this was a place that had sushi on one side of the menu and truffle mac & cheese on the other. Second, there was a sushi item called “crabstick”. I am no expert, but I contest that crabstick is not the type of crab I’m used to at home, and there was a debate whether or not it was really crab. This was one of the things on the menu that didn’t have the Japanese word next to it (oh, it should be noted that the sushi was in English, throwing me off completely until I noticed the Japanese in fine print). In the end, we ordered a few pieces of sashimi, and a bunch of rolls, nearly all featuring cooked rather than raw preparations. The sashimi was ok, with the Maguro being pretty good and the Hamachi not as much. For the rolls, they were good, no real standouts and one that I thought was just not good (I can’t remember which it was, but it was bad). As the night came to a close, I realized that I’d had a pretty good time, and it was not the worst meal I’d eaten in my life, or even this trip.

Final Verdict – 2.5 Stars

Seti’s Polish Boys

I figured it was only appropriate that I finish my trip to Cleveland by getting a very “Cleveland” food, and one endorsed by Iron Chef Michael Symon. Learning of the Polish Boy by watching The Best Thing I Ever Ate, I was determined to give it a try. So, on the way to the airport, I made a small detour and got myself a couple of Polish Boys from Seti’s Truck in the parking lot of the restaurant supply depot. The Polish Boy can basically be described as a complete meal in one hand. It is a hot dog smeared with cole slaw, and topped with French fries and a sweet barbeque/honey sauce. I wasn’t quite sure exactly what they would be like, so decided to eat in the car. Unwrapping the first one, I looked down and it and sighed, knowing without a doubt that it was going to wind up on me (I’m a messy eater to begin with…). The other thing I didn’t know was how hot they were. Biting into the first one, the very delicious sauce and hot dog hit the top of my mouth and burned it pretty good. I definitely didn’t let that stop me, and polished off the first one. I waited until I was a little more stuck in traffic, and moving slower to break into the second one. First degree burns on the roof of my mouth aside, I was definitely pleased. Did I get as excited as Michael Symon did? No, but I will definitely go back.
Seti's Polish Boys on Urbanspoon
Final Verdict – 3.75 Stars

So that’s it. This trip to Cleveland is officially in the books. Next week will include a trip to Dallas, a trip to Denver and a couple of home-cooked meals, including one in my hometown of Cheyenne, WY. And it won’t be long until Michael Symon recipes and experiences start appearing in Deck On Food!

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